Haeresis Noviomagi Pt 2: Fluisteraars – Bloem
For a primer about who the hell Haeresis Noviomagi are, go check out the first part about Turia‘s Degen Van Licht. If their approach to black metal wasn’t for you, you may be pleased to hear that Fluisteraars, while bearing a few similarities, is ultimately quite a different beast.
That cover already suggests that we’re dealing with a more modern approach to black metal, perhaps of the blackgaze variety. We’ll be coming back to that assumption, but for now, “Tere Muur” is content to jump almost straight into a very straightforward black metal riff and stick with it for some time, occasionally switching to an even simpler tremolo riff. Perhaps the intended effect is similar to what Turia is going for, but with the much more up-front sound of this album, I find that I’m somehow less drawn in by the hypnotic effect of the music. These guys do jump out at you, but then they seem to kinda just stand there. As an opener, this doesn’t make the best of cases for the band.
Luckily though, they quickly reveal that they are much more fond of the trumpet than Turia, and it accompanies the aforementioned tremolo riff, kind of filling in as a lead guitar. It comes up very frequently throughout the album, but I appreciate how it’s consistently incorporated into the music rather than solely relegated to quieter parts. It’s often subtle, and even when the rest of the music takes it down a notch to make room for it, it rarely takes center stage and never makes the music feel like anything close to symphonic.
Second track “Nasleep” is the first to employ a song structure that will come up a couple more times. Shortly after a somewhat bewildering section of deranged screams that actually glitch out at the end (nicely accompanied by the trumpet), the song shifts into a quiet bridge part, the plucked melody of which is then picked up by the remainder of the song, which you could indeed call blackgaze: a slow, pondering riff accompanied by that bright, melancholic melody. It’s simplistic, but quite effective in evoking a wistful atmosphere. So effective, in fact, that the band does pretty much the same thing for songs 4 and 5. They start with a burst of mostly straightforward black metal with some tempo changes strewn in, then go into a quiet part, and close on a doom-tempo’d part full of sadness. This pattern straddles the line between being same-y enough that it’s noticeable and making the individual parts varied enough that it doesn’t become too much of a gripe. The final third of “Vlek” is particularly pretty, fleshed out by a beautiful violin and an acoustic guitar, while the album’s closer relies on choral vocals and goes back to utilizing the trumpet in a nice way.
Speaking of clean singing, third track “Euwige Ram”, the slow jam of the record, has a wailing kind of clean singing throughout. I’d first heard this on De Oord, the split that Fluisteraars did with—who else?—Turia, and was quite intrigued by it. It’s perhaps the reason I checked this album out in the first place, hoping to hear more of it. I still dig it, although it has less of the arresting, Conan-style “yelling from the top of a mountain” vibe to it this time around, and the song is perfectly happy to let the vocals be its only novelty. I’d hesitate to call it a highlight of the album, although once again, the trumpet is here to provide some nice texture to the drab background.
All in all, Fluisteraars boasts a wider range of tools than Turia, even if that doesn’t necessarily result in a more varied product. If you’re looking for a more immediate experience and can stand a few modern elements, this is the album to go for out of the two. Personally, I’ve had a slightly harder time getting into this one, but ultimately found both records highly enjoyable, so much so that I can’t really pick a favourite. I just hope you’re now as psyched about Haeresis Noviomagi releases as I am.
Bloem will be out on February 28th, also via Eisenwald.